One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A tall Indian palm with very large fan-shaped leaves that are used as sunshades and for thatching, and to make the material upon which books were traditionally written. When the talipot matures, at about 40–60 years, it sends up a 25-foot (8-m) stalk bearing millions of flowers, and subsequently the tree dies.
- ‘These were substantially built of timber and talipots, thatched with cadjans and bamboo leaves, and festooned and decorated as the Singhalese only can decorate - leaves, flowers and fruit being entwined together with so much delicacy and airy tastefulness as to impart an almost fairy-like form to the pavilion.’
- ‘Some years pass without any talipots coming out into bloom at all; many years only one or two are to be seen, but on average there is a full show every seven to ten years.’
- ‘Talipots only flower once and then die.’
- ‘The use of the talipots and the lion flag were conceded by the king to a chief in the Uggalboda sannas, together with the use of the ceremonial torches.’
- ‘The flowering talipot is a breathtaking sight, but one that is becoming increasingly rare in the city these days.’
Late 17th century: from Malayalam tālipat, from Sanskrit tālīpatra, from tālī ‘palm’ + patra ‘leaf’.
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